Wearable Technology Product Developers Top 3 Tips For Startups

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It seems nearly every week there is a new development of some kind of wearable technology. This ranges from large corporate companies, to small businesses, to individuals with even students getting in on the wearable technology buzz.

Wearable technology has given a resurgence to inventing and “home-grown” projects. Some of the most exciting gadgets we have seen have been from new startups and some have been totally unique inventions, solving problems that do exist in general life. Of course there’s all sorts of other gadgets too, anything from fitness to entertainment wearables, they should all be given some credit.

With so many new developers coming through we wanted to reach out to people within the industry to create a roundup of their opinions and what advice they have for new startups in the wearable tech market.

So we reached out to many of the industry developers and PR people and asked them the question:

“What would be your 3 best tips to new start-ups in the wearable tech industry?”

Below you can read their answers, which should be of interest whether you are thinking of starting a wearable tech project, already started some kind of kickstarter, interested in wearable technology in general or these companies and individuals. We’d love to hear your thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below!

 


Francesco GiartosioFrancesco Giartosio

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CEO of GlassUp


  1. The space is getting crowded, better choose a niche of target customers and hope not too many are targeting as well (e.g. mountain climbers, mothers with babies).
  2. Work on your project together with an association of your target customers.
  3. Try to make partnerships with complementary organizations (if you make a gadget, partner with sw houses, startups working on input / control tools, companies working on the database related to your info – which they’ll supply to you and collect from you).

Bonus: keep in mind that it will take three times the time and money you consider a safe estimate.

Mike SarowMike Sarow

Co-founder and CEO of Kapture


  1. Although wearable tech is growing in popularity most people have no idea how a sensor or feature relates to them. As an industry we need to bring consumers along for the ride with education around the unique benefits a new product provides. Keep talking to ordinary consumers until your message is understood and extremely simple.
  2. Hardware is not software. From your business mode, burn rates, and capital needs to how you grow the talent within the company. You will look different to a vast majority of VC’s except for the handful who really understand the complexity of producing a tangible product infused with technology. Be patient – you are different.
  3. Don’t worry about the big dogs. With mega entries into the wearable tech industry from Samsung, Apple, Google, and others it’s easy to question how you can compete. Remember Jawbone, Fitbit, Pebble, and Misfit were little dogs before solidifying their spot in the industry with great products and clear benefits. Just remember when you see a Samsung Gear commercial, “more people are now aware of wearable tech products.”

 

Monisha PerkashMonisha Perkash

CEO and Co-founder at Lumo BodyTech

Bio:

Monisha Perkash is CEO & Co-founder at Lumo BodyTech, makers of the Lumo Lift and Lumo Back posture and activity trackers. She and her team are shaking up the wearable tech space with fashion-forward designs to help people look and feel great. They have recently received notable coverage in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Oprah Magazine, and ABC News. LUMO is backed by Madrona Ventures, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, and Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures. Monisha previously served as CEO and Co-Founder of TuitionCoach (acquired by SimpleTuition in 2009), where she oversaw the financing, launch, and general management of the start-up. After the acquisition, she stayed on with SimpleTuition as VP Products. Monisha has an MBA from Stanford and a BA from Yale.


  1. Empathy – always listen to your users, try to understand how your product will fit into their lives (and benefit them). Always strive to design products that make people’s lives better and that you can love.
  2. Iteration – Great products always evolve – from their inception through new generations that adapt as the industry, users and technology change/mature.
  3. Balance – Find and understand the balance between being cutting edge (especially in terms of technology) but approachable. A new technology is only as good as its ability to help people – whether or not they understand all of the features, how it works etc. It needs to be able to solve a problem well but not be so expensive or complicated that you are not able to bridge the gap from early adopters to mainstream.

Chirag JagtianiChirag Jagtiani

Founder at spotNsave

Bio:

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/chirag-jagtiani/8/380/10a


  1. Never get scared or disheartened when you get negative comments or criticism, these negative comments and criticism make you strong! Don’t be scared of Failure, if you fail no problem, you learn more from failure.
  2. Never fall in love with your product/idea because it will be hard to give up your product / startup incase it fails.
  3. Always have a the ball in your court, never depend on others. There are lots of people who make false promises, a lot of Angel investors / sharks make promises but when the time comes , pull back. Always have a backup plan.

If you follow these 3 simple and basic tips, you will never fail! Growth is slow, but there is sure shot growth!

T.WareT.Ware

Bio:

T.Ware aims to design and bring to life the most innovative, elegant, useful and user-friendly technology products that use touch to communicate and comfort, to expand the human experience. T.Ware’s vision is to bring touch to life.


  1. Have in-depth understanding of your target users
  2. Comfort is as important as functionality
  3. Take marketing planning and execution as seriously and as important as your product development.

Anastasia EmmanuelAnastasia Emmanuel

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UK Marketing and Community Manager at Indiegogo

Bio:

Anastasia Emmanuel is UK Marketing and Community Manager for Indiegogo. She is responsible for marketing the global Indiegogo brand in the UK and encouraging crowdfunding growth via community development and education. Anastasia also manages social media for Indiegogo UK, where you will regularly find her tweeting the brightest and the best UK crowdfunding campaigns.

Anastasia is an experienced project manager having worked within media and technology for over 5 years. She is best known as technology reporter for leading UK technology website Tech City News, for which she hosts a weekly tech news video roundup. She was also instrumental in co-managing Newspepper – a new media agency in London working with clients such as BBC, PayPal, CH4, and The Guardian as well as many smaller start-ups. She has also produced content and assisted with online marketing, new business, and business development at numerous start-ups, including Publicate which she co-founded.

Anastasia has been immersed in the UK start-up community, in many capacities, for the past four years and considers the growth of small business as an interest and passion. She is fascinated by technology, how it solves problems and directly impacts our everyday lives for the better. Anastasia lives with her partner in London. She loves startup culture, traveling all over the world and cooking exciting food that she has discovered on her travels.


  1. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Consider where there is a demand for wearable tech such as exercise, health, watches and glasses. Think about how you can solve existing problems and make improvements with your own product.
  2. Aesthetics are very important, so make your tech attractive. Your product will be much more desirable to the end consumer if it is beautiful, more so if its wearable, this may sound obvious, but make sure you ask people – “would you wear this?”, “does this look appealing?” etc. Check out Misfit Shine, it really is wearable.
  3. Last, but by no means least, learn from your customers. You need to ensure that the public are interested in your product and will ultimately buy it. There is little point manufacturing a product if it won’t sell. One of the best ways to do that is to use Indiegogo. Not only can you raise funds from the crowd for manufacturing but you can also obtain valuable data from your future customers; do they like the colour, the shape, the design and the fit? – they will tell you on Indiegogo and validate your idea with their dollars, pounds or euros. You can use this feedback to make changes to your product and set it up for success.

OmateOmate

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Omate TrueSmart Team


  1. Master your topic! Be an expert in your domain, you are not alone . Set the perfect marketing mix
  2. Get the right team.
  3. Share bad news right away with your community

Youmna HobeikaYoumna Hobeika

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Instabeat

Bio:

Instabeat is the first waterproof heads-up monitor that tracks, stores, and displays instant feedback of your heart rate during your swim to optimize your training and allow you to achieve your peak performance.


Our 3 tips are:

  1. Make it wearable: no clunky sensors, pretty and compact form factor.
  2. Make it simple: mininal setup required, intuitive use.
  3. Make it fun and engaging.

Oskar KalmaruOskar Kalmaru

Co-founder and CMO, Narrative


Here are Narrative’s top 3 tips for starting a company in the wearable tech industry:

  1. Wearable technology needs to be wearable – don’t underestimate elements such as design, durability and ease-of-use.
  2. Plan ahead. While true in all businesses, when building hardware it’s imperative that you know how the ideation, design, testing, production, manufacturing, distribution, marketing and sales process will align and what dependencies exist among them.
  3. You’re not a wearable technology startup, you’re a marketing startup. Don’t focus on the label of your technology, focus on why anyone will want to use it and pay money for it.

Sameera BandukSameera Banduk

Marketing Director of Thalmic Labs


1. Don’t underestimate aesthetics. With an innovative piece of wearable technology, it’s key that you have a design to match. Without innovative aesthetics, adoption of your device will suffer.
2. Hardware is hard. When bringing a new product like ours to the market, you require expertise in design, manufacturing, logistics, certifications, and much more, in addition to all of the software needed to support it.
3. User experience will make or break you. Nailing UX is especially difficult for technologies that have never been done before. With the Myo armband, there are no pre-defined UX standards so it’s up to you to create them from the ground-up in an intuitive way.

David FleckDavid Fleck

VP of Marketing at Vidcie

Bio:

David’s career has been focused on technology in Silicon Valley that includes both consumer and enterprise in the hardware and software sectors. Before joining Vidcie, he served as Vice President of Marketing at IMVU, Linden Lab and Novell, as well as various rolls in both startups and public companies such as Computer Associates, Creative Labs, Openwave and Macromedia. David graduated from British Columbia Institute of Technology with degrees in Computer Systems and Communications.


1) Don’t forget the backend. Like all tech, wearables (hardware) will become a commoditized low margin business over time and requires constant innovation to remain relevant. The real ROI is in expanding the value beyond the hardware by adding software solutions that powers the hardware.

2) Define your solutions value first. Too many start-ups are trying to jump on the wearables bandwagon without really slowing down to think about the problem they are trying to solve. Instead, they end up with an attractive piece of hardware with no clear value proposition.

3) Be flexible to capitalize on market opportunity. The enterprise wearables market is primed for takeoff, whereas the consumer wearables market is already becoming over saturated with dominant players. Consider shifting gears to focus on where the most substantial opportunity exists.

Martin GosslingMartin Gossling

CEO and Co-founder of BPMPro

Bio:

Martin trained as an electronic product designer but has spent over 25 years selling high tech products and services around the world for the likes of Motorola. He has been involved in wearable devices since 2002, initially for the smart phone evolution and then for wireless gaming applications. Then in January 2011, founded 270 Vision and started the development of purpose built wearable technology for the sports and medical recovery industries and launched the first product, BPMpro in November 2013.


My 3 tips for new start ups in the wearable tech industry are:-

 

  1. Ensure that you really understand your target marketplace and make sure you have the marketing knowledge and reach to be able to address it correctly. By this I mean that in your planning stages really break down the specific end customers, what they are going to use your technology for and use the 5 P’s of marketing to ensure your product is well placed and correctly priced. It is so easy to simply state to consumers ‘this product is great for measuring your activity’ but so what, why is that important, what are they going to gain from it. Having a good looking product is great for consumers in terms of grabbing initial attention, but it still needs to deliver on the technology front otherwise it will just be put in a drawer and forgotten.
  2. Clearly define your own brand and value add. In an industry which is expanding rapidly to need to make sure your core USP’s stand out, there are so many wearable devices that do not really do anything different to others that are already out there. Take care with your branding to make sure it is distinctive, works across all mediums and portrays your brand values. This is quite often forgotten by a start up believing that only big consumer brands need to focus on branding, but in a global marketplace, brand recognition across web sites and distribution partners is vital to make sure you maximise what limit marketing budget you might have. This applies in making sure your technology innovation and its value add compared to the competition is clear.

3. Make sure you are adequately funded. An obvious statement but also difficult for start ups to fully understand the true cost of global marketing, branding, packaging, IP. Start ups tend to be a small passionate teams with specific skills but with limited product launch experience. Whatever number you think you need, triple it! Do not be afraid to give up big chucks of equity in the early stages, for without funding you will end up with 90% of nothing.

Brian MillerBrian Miller

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Founder and CEO Voluri, fashionable wearable electronics

Bio:

http://about.me/brianmillerceo

Great companies like Misfit, Pebble, Fitbit, and Jawbone have paved the way for the recent explosion of interest in wearable tech. Big consumer electronics companies like Samsung, Google, Motorola, Sony, Plantronics, and Apple will help the fuel continued demand for wearables. As new startups in this space, we have the benefit of standing on the shoulders of greats that have done a lot of the heavy lifting to validate this market. Now we must continue to rapidly innovate and focus on the unmet needs of consumers. Here are some things that I have found to be of value as I have been working to get my own wearables startup off the ground.


Solve An Urgent Problem

It goes without saying, but it’s all too easy, particularly in a nascent market like wearables, to get excited about a particular technology and go in hunt of a problem. Technology is important, but if your product doesn’t solve a painful, urgent problem for consumers it likely won’t fare well in the long term.

 

Make Security A Priority, Like Right Now

Consumers are increasingly wary of products that record their data, for obvious reasons. If your wearable product records a user’s data, put security at the top of your to-do list. Give users a compelling reason to share their personal data with you and then fanatically protect that data at every stage of transmission and storage. Give the user COMPLETE control over their data and what can be done with it. If you plan to use their data for something other than for their immediate benefit, explain this to them in plain terms and ASK FOR PERMISSION.

 

Collaborate With Others

I’ve found that many leaders in the wearable tech space are happy to help new startups and give back in some way. Be respectful with their time as they are usually extremely busy, but don’t try to do everything yourself in a vacuum. Yes, your products may overlap in some areas, but the next standardized communication protocol, universal data aggregation platform, or open source hardware reference design that can help grow the industry won’t happen if we don’t work together.

 

I was asked for three tips, but here’s a fourth bonus topic that impacts everyone in the wearable tech space:

 

Work With a Sense of Honor and Integrity

The wearable tech market will undoubtedly be huge in terms of numbers of units and overall market value, but it’s still a relatively small industry. Consumers have flocked to crowdfunding sites to be the first on their block to own some shiny new wearable product. Just look at the incredible success that Pebble has enjoyed. But trust in these sites is waning slightly as several high profile products have failed to live up to the promises made by their creators. Be honest about what your product can and cannot do, deliver when you say you are going deliver, and communicate honestly with your customers when things inevitably go sideways. If we can work together to police this, we can protect the integrity of the wearables market and maintain crowdfunding as a trusted resource for consumers and platform for new startups. Even if you don’t participate in crowdfunding, one bad actor on these sites can impact you and the rest of the industry. And, again, this is a small industry and companies have long memories when it comes to people that exhibit behaviors that can be seen as questionable.

Scott ColesScott Coles

CEO at Optalert

Bio:

Bio Profile on LinkedIn: http://au.linkedin.com/in/scottdcoles


  1. Focus on the user experience
    1. If it is hard to use, or worse, has quirks people find annoying, your little quirks will be all over social media
  2. Elegance of design
    1. If the look isn’t everything, it’s most things. The adopters of wearable tech are not only looking for cool functionality, they want to make a fashion statement
  3. Make good on your promises
    1. If you take seed or crowd funding for a product to be delivered on a certain date, then meet that date.
    2. If you promise a level of functionality, then have that level of functionality
    3. Over promising and under delivering will kill your new idea

Uwe DiegelUwe Diegel

President of iHealthLabs in Europe

Bio:

About Uwe DIEGEL

Uwe DIEGEL is the holder of several patents pertaining to temperature and blood pressure measurement and is considered as a specialist in various forms of medical diagnostics. After studying music, he performed worldwide as a concert pianist for several years. In 1992 he entered the world of medical diagnostics, quickly developing a particular interest in the field of cardiovascular. In 2009, he got interested in Connected Health as a means of providing better patient management and became involved in iHealth, a platform which takes all the signals of the body and translates into a meaningful format using smartphones and tablets. Uwe serves as president of iHealthLabs in Europe.

About iHealthLabs

iHealth is dedicated to helping people lead healthier lives. They are a leader in the design and development of mobile personal healthcare solutions that focus on heart health, diabetes and wellness. The company’s emphasis is on creating innovative solutions that combine easy-to-use, CE certified devices with powerful mobile apps linked to the cloud. This combination makes it simple for consumers to accurately measure, track, understand and share a full range of health vitals. By connecting the data through the cloud, consumers are able to see a more comprehensive view of their vitals, easily share data with health care professionals or caregivers and take an active role in managing their health. Visit www.ihealthlabs.eu for more information.


Basically there are three laws that govern any successful business and they can be resumed in these three simple rules:

• Know what people want
• Answering that demand
• Attention to detail

Wearable technology is all about being flexible and in having the right balance between the three above factors.

Having an idea is one thing, and putting it into action is another. The design of the action pathway is just as much part of the design of an idea as the delivery of value. It is not much use, in a specific situation, to design an idea that cannot be put into action.

If ventures are only judged by the ultimate result then ‘justified ventures’ are always excluded. The effect is that people are unwilling to take the risk of trying out new ideas because they do not want a record of failures to be set against them.

THE THINKING NEEDED

Water is necessary for soup. Without water there is no soup. Competence, efficiency and structure are all three necessary for the survival and success of any organization (they are the water needed for the soup). Having the right infrastructure in place is necessary for successful innovation. But more and more water does not create soup. Without flavour there is no soup. Innovation is this flavour.

There is however a need to have the right infrastructure in place. Without flavour (innovation) there is no soup. Structural changes are tangible and can be put into place through a decision, so they get more attention than the thinking needed for innovation. Yet the thinking is essential.

Creativity must be an expectation – otherwise it is a risk. It is one or the other.

In many ways, product development is going through a revolution as new crowd funding platforms such as Indiegogo or KickStarter solutions appear. These new funding solutions mean that it has in many ways become too easy for individuals to express themselves through innovation, with the end result being that there are thousands of stand-alone product companies competing against one another instead of working together on a range of complementary products. These companies need to develop the right infrastructure to develop their ideas and bring them to market.

Chris CoxChris Cox

President and founder of Pivothead Wearable Imaging

Bio:

Parlaying years of optics industry expertise, Chris Cox founded Pivothead Wearable Imaging to challenge all preconceived notions of the camera and how we document and share our lives. Pivothead was the first to engineer and mass market professional-grade video and photo capture technology in an eyewear platform and is today, sold nationwide and around the world. Pivothead’s second generation SMART glasses continue the company’s tradition of innovation by integrating technologies such as HD live streaming and near field communication capabilities into imaging eyewear.

A longtime entrepreneur, he previously founded the Classic Asia Group Ltd., which ushers products in the conceptual stage, through the development, engineering and manufacturing process. Cox resides in Shanghai and Denver.


  1. If endurance and persistence are not part of your character, quit now
  2. Whatever you budget is in terms of both total cost and time needed to launch your product, multiply the time figure by two and triple the cost estimate; it will end up being far more accurate.
  3. Wearable Tech can require a broad spectrum of skill sets that include hardware design, manufacturing, software, chipset firmware, connectivity, and cloud know-how; make sure your company can create alignment with the specific skills that will be needed to launch a multi-faceted product.

Catherine CalarcoCatherine Calarco

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Chief Marketing Officer at HeartMath

Bio:

As the Chief Marketing Officer for HeartMath, Catherine Calarco brings a rich background and global expertise in the digital health, consumer technology and science and software markets.

With more than 20 years of experience in corporate leadership, Catherine has successfully guided numerous organizations around the world to achieve significant growth. These companies include Sabre Pacific, Applied Biosystems, MIT Sloan School of Management and several start-ups. Catherine recognized that the world needs greater awareness and leadership capability to deal with the complex problems of today. It is her goal to inspire people and organizations to be the change that they want to see in the world and to positively impact their wider community.

Catherine is a highly recognized MIT Graduate and sought-after speaker and has presented numerous papers and lectured across the globe at many conferences and universities including; Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), MIT Sloan School of Management, Digital Health San Francisco, Mobile Health Expo New York, American Hospital Association Leadership Summit, Aging in America National Conference, and the MIT Angel Investors Group. Catherine will also be a featured speaker at the Digital Health Summit at the 2013 International Consumer Electronic Show.

Catherine has served on the Board of Directors for the Institute of International Research and served as the former President of the MIT Club of Northern California where she remains an active MIT CNC board member and advises the Venture Mentoring Service. She has also co-chaired the e-Commerce Action Team, served on several NZ Government Industry boards and is a member of the advisory board for Astia.

Supporting HeartMath in breaking ground in the mobile market, Catherine led the launch of HeartMath’s first digital health app, Inner Balance and the HeartMath Sensor for iOS. She also has been instrumental in HeartMath’s partnership with the Huffington Post working with Arianna Huffington and her team to bring HeartMath’s award-winning HRV/heart rhythm feedback technology to the recent GPS for the Soul app which was just announced by Huffington Post, HeartMath and bLife.

As a key spokesperson for HeartMath, Catherine has hosted and co-hosted numerous webinars including co-hosting with Peter Diamandis on the topic of creating Abundance and with author Chip Conley discussing the parallels between math and life. Catherine has also conducted countless broadcast and print interviews for HeartMath at the highly anticipated Consumer Electronics Show and Pepcom events, and on behalf of GPS for the Soul at the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention.

Possessing a dedicated passion for making a difference in the world, Catherine delivered several innovative programs to a wide range of HeartMath clients which include hospitals, health professionals and corporations resulting in improved health and reduced health care costs.

She cares deeply for the Oceans, marine life and the environment supporting organizations such as BlueOceans Film Festival and WWF. Catherine resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her delightful and energetic Papillons and one very courageous cat.


1) Put the use case and customer experience first. Understand your customer and make it work for them to assure adoption of the product. It is vital to provide technology that is simple and easy to use, as well as innovative

An innovative product may will many awards but won’t survive unless there are a growing number of customers. Take your customers on a journey with your product development including considering incentives and intrinsic rewards.

2) Emotion is the most powerful force driving consumer behavior. Therefore, it is important to be purposeful and communicate the value of the wearable device and the company. Inspire people to be part of something bigger and enable them to participate in long-term benefits. This will create sustainable results.

3) Prove it works! Currently, its popular to aggregate every biometric into one device. Yet, what is the point? Does it really work to deliver an actual benefit and do people like it? Scientifically valid, proven and intelligent feedback, delivered in a clever way, makes a difference. If it works and works well, people will tell their friends and the product will stand out from the competition.

Also, does it work in your daily life? Wearable doesn’t mean I’ll wear it. Make sure people can easily integrate the device into their life and enjoy using or wearing the product. Fashion is fickle.

4) And, a bonus 4th tip. Adapt. Remember that everything in this area is changing and be prepared for the change. There may be changes in the business model, technical direction or user experience. The change arrives as incremental (behavior change) or monumental (everything moving to the phone). Plan for evolution within this emerging field. Develop a product that will work for the target customer while being innovative enough to be where the puck is.

Therefore, the goal is to make things available at the right time. Perfection is the enemy of the good. And, the only thing that doesn’t change is the need for better wearable solutions that help people live healthier happier lives.

Caspar ThykierCaspar Thykier

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Tech CEO & Co-Founder of Zappar & VEEMEE

Bio:

Caspar spent 15 years working across different areas of marketing starting in advertising where he became the youngest ever Board Director and New Business Director at AMV BBDO in London. He went on to become a co-Founder and Managing Director at the marketing agency Campbell Doyle Dye which went on to become a top 50 UK marketing agency. Caspar then spent 18 months as the Chief Operating Officer at the leading PR firm Freud Communications before moving into the world of digital where he is a Co-Founder and CEO of two pioneering companies – VEEMEE and Zappar.

Zappar was founded in 2011 and is the market leader in AR-enabled product and infotainment experiences on mobile. Using its own proprietary technology Zappar works closely with leading brands, license partners and retailers across the world to produce innovative, customizable solutions as bite-sized entertainment. Partners include, Warner Bros, Disney, Hasbro, Activision, Crocs, Penguin, Sony Music and ASDA amongst others. Zappar recently launched the Zapcode Creator – an online solution that has democratized AR making it readily available for anyone on the planet to create their own experiences providing the highest quality and the lowest price point.

VEEMEE (standing for make me virtual) was founded in 2009 and specializes in branded content and original IP on games platforms and handheld devices – specifically in virtual worlds and PlayStation Home on PS3 working with blue chip global brands including Audi, Billabong, Wrangler and Universal Music.


Focus on the experience not the technology

Put a real person at the centre of you design and get it out of the lab. Because it’s clever doesn’t mean people will want it. You need to really think about how this could make someone’s life either simpler or more fun.
B2C may look attractive but don’t discount B2B
Small tech start-ups are like moths to a flame for the mass market grand prize. But only a handful will make it through without going down in flames (and burning through their cash!). Look to business and enterprise initiatives for your product to gain traction, better product understanding and some much needed cash to help grow the business. Tech utilities may not score you dinner party conversation points but you can worry about that after you’ve placed that massive million dollar order with SAP!
Beware the collective consciousness
You can pretty much guarantee that if you think you’ve got a really unique never-seen-before idea someone on the other side of the world (or hot desk next to you) will be looking at the exact same thing. So don’t over-guild the lily, get to market, iterate, learn, improve.

Lew TurnquistLew Turnquist

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President, Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.

Bio:

Lew Turnquist is the President of Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc (“Orpyx”). Orpyx is creating a wearable sensor platform to enable life changing health tools and empower the user through data analytics. There has been exponential growth in wearable technologies over the last decade, but very little meaningful impact is being produced. Orpyx seeks to be a global leader in providing wearables that save limbs and change lives.


1. Don’t Underestimate the Challenge

Measuring humans is hard. As wearable technology proliferates, it becomes easier every day to find sensors to place on the human body. But just how difficult it is to accurately measure what is really going on with that body is often underestimated.

This is true in two ways. First, the human body creates uniquely hostile environments in which wearable technology must live: they are hot, humid, stretching, jarring, and often unpredictable places to try to get technology to perform reliably and to last any meaningful amount of time. The engineering challenge to get them to work there is great.

Secondly, the current state of the art for sensor technologies often doesn’t allow for precise measurement of the actual effect you want. An accelerator worn on the wrist is not a direct measure of activity throughout the body, so to calculate activity from that inexpensive sensor, you must interpret and abstract movement on the wrist and derive overall physical activity. And that interpretive leap is difficult to make accurately. Great care should put into the development, refinement and testing of whatever methodology you select.

2. Make Your Wearable Technology Wearable

Ultimately, significant adoption of any wearable technology will depend on the devices being natural compliments to the human form. They should be non-intrusive (ideally, not seen at all), and in keeping with the fashions worn by the broader user base, not just the early-adopter set.

Look to mature wearable technologies for inspiration on how to do this successfully: wristwatches and eyeglasses come to mind. Wearables should be wearable.

3. Remember, the Real Value is in the Data

The technology part of wearable technology isn’t where the world will ultimately place the value from this movement. It’s the data. The hardware element of this industry is really only an enabler to the longer-term treasure chest of information that it unlocks.

The fitness tracker space is either saturated or close thereto, but increasingly both the producers of those products and their users are realizing that wearing the device is only worth it if the activity data generated is meaningful. A common effect we are witnessing today is drop-off of wearable tech users after a few months because they don’t see the value in their data. Find and present clearly to the user actionable data they really need or want and you will have created long-term value for them and in your new venture.

Billie WhitehouseBillie Whitehouse

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Founding member of We:eX (Wearable Experiments)

Bio:

Billie Whitehouse is the designer of FUNDAWEAR. Fundawear was the catalyst to Billie founding the company WE:EX [Wearable Experiments]. As director and designer Billie is invigorating the fashion industry and transforming it into a business focused on improving the quality of our lives. Billie was brought up in the design industry, working from the early age of 16 at Australia’s leading tertiary design school,

Whitehouse Institute of Design, Australia. Billie has been recognised for her work on FUNDAWEAR, with the campaign receiving a Silver Lion at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Billie is an aesthetic specialist with a naturally inquisitive nature towards technology and innovation. As a garment engineer she strongly believes people should not have to look like the technology that they have grown to love and depend on. Billie’s designs are sharp, experimental, naturally confident and subtly feminine in appearance integrating the latest technology. Design principals of colour, line, shape, proportion, tone, silhouette and texture are being brought to the wearable technology industry by Billie Whitehouse.

The other highlight for Billie in 2014 was winning the Best Fan Engagement Award for the work on the Alert Shirt with FOX SPORTS. The ‘Alert Shirt’ is a fan jersey that uses wearable technology to enable fans to feel what the players feel live as it happens during the game. Billie believes that Wearable Experiments can give intelligence and purpose to what humans wear. Wearable Experiments released the New York Navigate before the PSFK audience in April 2014, a GPS jacket that nudges the wearer to direct them left or right. This city-specific jacket gives the wearer the ability to walk around a city unimpeded by a map or app. Billie has recently been presenting at conferences globally including SXSW, mLab, Apps World UK, and Wearable Tech San Francisco.


  1. Don’t make technology for the sake of technology.
  2. Solve a problem.
  3. Design for real human form, not what you think it is!
  4. Enjoy the process or stop!

Currently Wearable Experiments is rapidly developing wearable technology that is INVISIBLE, waterproof, durable and above all DESIGN FOCUSED!

We are choosing our clients carefully. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We believe the way forward for our industries is creative collaboration.

Wearable Experiments design and build the hardware, software and the apparel for wearable technology products.

In 2013 we had great success with FUNDAWEAR.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb7DN3kpl2o

8 million hits on Youtube and 1600 news articles written about this project.

At SXSW we released a product for FOX SPORTS, the Alert Shirt.

This is the ultimate sports fan experience, which was recently featured on The Creators Project.

We recently released our latest NAVIGATE video.

We are in the process of doing New York specific software that is curated by NYC influencers. We would love to have your feedback on the new designs.

My advice to anyone interested in getting into this, is to do your research! Be as informed as humanly possible.

Then look at the formulas that work eg Kickstarter for consumer tech, Then decide where you sit in the market.

Know the rules so that you can break them.

Start creating as soon as possible. The sooner you are building the faster you are able to solve the problems.

The world loves a viral video, so get good at telling your story with visuals as well as words.

Intelligent HeadsetIntelligent Headset

Bio:

INTELLIGENT HEADSET THE WORLD’S FIRST HEADSET WITH 3D AUDIO

Much more than a high-quality stereo headset, Intelligent Headset is a revolutionary new sound experience. With it, you hear sounds just as you would in real life—ahead, behind, above, below and to the sides, based on your location and head movement.

That opens up an amazing world of possibilities. Imagine gaming that’s so lifelike in both sound and movement that you’d swear it was real. Or taking an audio tour of just about anything, anywhere. Intelligent Headset makes it possible…


1. Choose carefully the marketing activities! Prepare for a long and delicate process towards break-through on the market. There are many players, and some with huge marketing budgets. Make sure you have options to stretch your budgets and be very selective in the marketing activities, so you DO get the attention desired.

2. Start early with Apps Developers! Almost all wearable tech start-ups are promoting an open SDK/API towards apps developers. Supporting mobile platforms may have to be extended to other engines like Unity for gaming developers.

3. Be patient! Make sure you have a strong core team with the energy and will to carry through the continuous ups and downs. Many startup founders split up due to this, so be sure you keep your eyes on the ball.

Jeff NoceJeff Noce

President of i4C Innovations

Bio:

As president of i4C, Jeff brings 20+ years of executive experience in public and private companies, including Circuit City, Sunrise Senior Living, Avventa Worldwide, and recently, WellAware Systems, where he launched innovative, remote healthcare monitoring services. Jeff also draws upon his experience as a behaviorist and owner of a nationally recognized dog training school, which allows him to fulfill a dream of using technology to improve communications between dogs and their owners.
http://www.mydogsvoyce.com


Hire the right people.

Start-ups are created by passionate and motivated people who are personally connected to the mission and success of the company. As you progress through the planning, development and marketing stages, and determine a need for expansion, it is crucial to hire the right people who will be committed to the product and company vision. Start by hiring a well-rounded team with a wide range of backgrounds and skill sets. For critical technology roles, focus on hiring individuals with subject matter expertise. And whenever possible, leverage outside firms to validate your assumptions.

Don’t fail to plan.

While enthusiasm and passion are beneficial to start-ups, it can result in a “hit the ground running” mindset. For example, companies may begin marketing processes and campaigns before working out a solid plan. Marketing without a plan, even a rudimentary one, results in wasted resources and missed opportunities to capture data. Develop a basic plan consisting of goals, objectives, integrated marketing communications strategy and measurements of success. Once the marketing plan is flushed out, consider implementing a tiered channel activation. Experiment with different marketing channels and test for effectiveness. Digital channels, especially social media, offer great micro targeting opportunities for testing and learning prior to “going big” with larger marketing spends.

Focus on Customer Satisfaction

In the end, it is the product and the customer’s experience in using your product that will determine success. In the planning and development stages, it is important to focus not only on the ease of use, but the whole experience, the emotion of the customer while using your product. In the marketing phases is its important to differentiate and have a clear positioning strategy around the features and benefits of the wearable technology and commit to delivering that on a consistent basis. Getting to know your target audience is a work in progress with a start-up company, but you must spend the time and resources to define the target audience, listen to their preferences and concerns, and deliver impeccable customer service.

Daan RoosegaardeDaan Roosegaarde

Artist & Innovator at Studio Roosegaarde

Bio:

Artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde is internationally known for creating social designs that explore the relation between people, technology and space. His Studio Roosegaarde is the social design lab with his team of designers and engineers based in the Netherlands and Shanghai.

With projects ranging from fashion to architecture his interactive designs such as Dune, Intimacy and Smart Highway are tactile high-tech environments in which
viewer and space become one. This connection, established between ideology and technology, results in what Roosegaarde calls ‘techno-poetry’.

Roosegaarde has won the INDEX Design Award, World Technology Award, two Dutch Design Awards, Charlotte Köhler Award, Accenture Innovation Award, and China’s Most Successful Design Award. He has been the focus of exhibitions at Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Tate Modern, National Museum in Tokyo, Victoria and Albert Museum, and various public spaces in Rotterdam and Hong Kong.

Selected by Forbes and Good 100 as a creative changemaker, Daan Roosegaarde is a frequent invited lecturer at international conferences such as TED and Design
Indaba, and TV media guest at De Wereld Draait Door and CNN.


  1. Team-up with different sectors like health or food science. They have great knowledge that, combined with wearables, can create new function or fantasy. (And it’s more fun).
  2. Be a hippie with a businessplan; so believe in new dreams, but also try to make them happen.
  3. At Studio Roosegaarde we believe in design by MAYA; most advanced yet acceptable. Create something that is future, but still connects with people. Finding this edge creates impact.

Steve LeftlySteve Leftly

CEO of Fibretronic Ltd and Sentrix Technology Limited,

Bio:

Steve Leftly is the CEO of Fibretronic Ltd and Sentrix Technology Limited, suppliers of soft electronic component solutions. He is a world-leading expert in the field of electronic textiles and has worked as research scientist in the smart textiles field for over 18 years. Steve worked as research leader for the international textile technology firm Canesis for 12 years developing highly functional textiles. During this time he the co-invented Softswitch technology, set up the Softswitch Ltd company and has also authored many other electronic textile technology patents.

In 2004 Steve was tasked by a US investment team to set up two new HKG companies; Fibretronic Limited, to develop and manufacture leading textile electronic solutions for consumer apparel, and Sentrix Technology Limited, researching advanced wearable technologies for therapeutic and healthcare markets. Over the last 10 years Steve has been working with many global garment brands, such as Levis, Nike, Adidas, and the North Face, to develop and commercialise their wearable electronic product solutions including the world’s first garment integrated electronics for Apple Inc. Fibretronic is now wearable technology market leader in apparel, and Sentrix Technology leading the development of high volume component solutions for the medical smart textiles market.


  1. Research the market well. Too many wearable concepts won’t fit the bill for mass consumer appeal and are just quirky headlines with no long-term viability.
  2. Don’t launch anything until it been wear tested for an extensive period. Design changes will always need to be reconfigured but a poor beta start could kill the concept all together.
  3. Remember to check out all regulatory requirements if it’s a global launch. Don’t get stuck with certification issues in a country you want to sell to.

 Frederic Blouin Frederic Blouin

President of Dew Motion Inc.

Bio:

Martial artist, Buddhist, skier and passionate entrepreneur, Frederic Blouin is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dew Motion inc.

After selling his technology company, Fred had a change of direction in how he looked at his entrepreneurship. “I wanted my next companies to be the extension of my personality and passions rather than my own ambition.”

The greatest reward so far has been to see how many people are eager to spread the news. This is how you can grow a company while having both feet on the ground. Keeping it real all the way.

Just as cool are the people that have come on board to make this venture a success. Mike Turner, VP of Sales, Andrea Diamant, VP marketing, and Arnaud Claude, International Business Development are all veterans executives who have worked with some of the best known companies such as Teva, Deckers, Rollerblade, and Rugby.

My hope is that our products and passion will allow people to gain a greater enjoyment of their world. So, go ahead and Show Your Beat!


  1. Try to avoid competing in areas that will get swamped by mass manufacturers. A lot of great smart watches have been launched on kickstarter, but a few have made a market for themselves. The field is too crowded and confused.
  2. Know your users and develop something they really want. That means focusing on doing something that you will do extremely well at and people will recognize you for. Wearables are a tricky market, where the right fit and feature is extremely important to the long term success of the product.
  3. Kickstarter has been successful for different people and for different reasons. My personal experience has been that niche products that are not in the geek radar ( i don’t mean to be condescendant here) will not do as well on this platform. Personally, my strategy would now be to use Kickstarter when my product is truly hitting first round production as a market launch strategy. Other people may have a different opinion and strategy here.

Todd GailunTodd Gailun

google plus

Visit Google Plus PageCo-Founder and Co-CEO of SENSOKA


  1. Don’t commit to a hardware form factor (watch, headband, bracelet etc…) unless you’ve investigated the difficulties of manufacturing, supply chain management and selling into retail stories or online.
  2. Hardware is as much about functionality as it is about design. DESIGN REALLY MATTERS. Wearable devices are fashion statements. How many potential customers have your fashion sense?
  3. Make sure you need wearable hardware to solve the problem you want to solve. Can you design software that solves your problem? If not, make sure that your wearable solution measures something that ONLY hardware can measure.

Janet HansenJanet Hansen

google plus

Founder of Enlighted Designs Inc.

Bio:

Janet Hansen is the founder and Chief Fashion Engineer of Enlighted Designs, based in Encinitas, California, where she has been creating custom illuminated clothing for over fifteen years. Her clothes are worn by a wide variety of professional entertainers, such as sports mascots, dancers, and musicians, including Daft Punk, Kanye West, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Macy Gray, Muse, 50 Cent, Christina Aguilera, Kid Rock, M.I.A., Incubus, R. Kelly, Pink, Kacey Musgraves, and the Radio City Rockettes.


Be realistic and ask yourself these questions:
  1. Does your product fill a true need that isn’t met by existing options?
  2. What is the target market – who would benefit from your product, and who would be willing to buy it?
  3. Can your idea be manufactured and sold for a profit within this expected market size?

Tero AaltonenTero Aaltonen

CEO & Co-Founder at Augumenta

Bio:

Tero Aaltonen is an entrepreneur with vast experience in mobile systems and applications, including product R&D, sales and business development activities. Since 1999, he has conducted business across the global mobile ecosystem, working with customers and partners in Asia, Europe and North America. Mr. Aaltonen has held multiple managerial positions during his career; including leading Taiwan and China sales operations and APAC business development engagements for mobile imaging company Scalado. He also co-founded Pictelligent, which delivers demanding mobile application solutions. He is currently focused on wearable devices as CEO and Co-Founder of Augumenta.


For any hardware startup, my advice is:

start working early enough with your manufacturing partner. There have been plenty of examples (on Kickstarter and elsewhere) of major go-to-market delays because fully functional prototype device designs have not met the requirements of manufacturing facilities. Manufacturers aim for high yield and are responsible for product repairs once devices are being sold. Unless they have been involved in your hardware design process, don’t expect them to just take your design and start producing it in volumes. These companies have years of experience in creating mass-producible devices, and they might want to redo some parts of your design work, resulting in additional costs and production delays.

Dave AspreyDave Asprey

google plus

Visit Google Plus PageFounder and CEO of The Bulletproof Executive

Bio:

As a biohacker I’ve been fantasizing about functional wearable technology since about 2003, when I got involved with the first company to make a stick on Bluetooth heart rate sensor. I am an advisor to HeartMath, the company that pioneered heart rate variability sensing and training for consumers. I was also – briefly – the CTO and cofounder of Basis Sciences, the tracking wristband company that Intel just acquired. My podcast, Bulletproof Radio, is number one ranked in the health and fitness category on itunes. I am an investor in wearable tech co Pavlok.


  1. Solve a real problem. The number of steps you take doesn’t really matter, and it’s been done.
  2. Sex and race matter. Gender, patterns of fat deposition, skin tone, conductance, and genetic differences can mess with your sensors. Test on a mixed group of people from day one.
  3. Decide on data ownership up front, and be willing to give every bit of data you collect to your customers in unfiltered format. Think Lego Mindstorms, but for people. You have no idea what biohackers will do with it, but it may change your entire business.

Jenni ArkseyJenni Arksey

Managing Director and Co-Founder of Goose Design

Bio:

Jenni Arksey is managing director and co-founder of Goose Design Ltd; an apparel and graphic design consultancy that believes in delivering fresh and innovative design solutions for global sportswear and lifestyle brands. A 1994 RCA graduate, Jenni worked with brands such as Burberry and Nike before forming Goose Design in 2002. Since then, the company has worked with over 50 denim, fashion and performance brands on projects such as the Levis Redwire: Ipod dock integration within jeans, and the Illum cycling jacket: an electroluminescent ink and solar panel technological concept integrated in a jacket that allows riders to light up for safety.


  1. Ensure you have a large enough market to buy into your product because the investment you need to develop the product good enough for retail will normally be costly. Also consider the volumes you need to produce with any new components.
  2. Make sure you understand the lead times of all your components to manufacture and they hit the final creation point at the same time. Development and production times can vary immensely if you are dealing with a product that combines electronics and soft goods [ i.e. accessories or apparel ]
  3. Really understand the beneficial needs of what you are creating. Do consumers really need this? Or is it a gimmick? Be hard on yourself here because they will be out there.

Bruce BorensteinBruce Borenstein

President and CEO, AfterShokz

Bio:

AfterShokz is the leading bone conduction headphone manufacturer, and a pioneer of technology and design, which has brought the first open ear headphones to consumers globally.


  1. Your product must serve a need, solve a problem or make life better for the consumer.
  2. Pricing needs to be in line with what the market will bear, but also ensuring accessibility on a broad scale (i.e., consider entry level options).
  3. Design needs to be fashionable as well as functional.

Stacey BurrStacey Burr

Vice President of Adidas Wearable Sports Electronics

Bio:

Stacey Burr is a leader in the field of wearable sensing technology. Following a career at DuPont, she founded and served as CEO of Textronics Inc, a pioneer in electro-textiles. Textronics led the commercialization of e-textiles with the first wearable sensor garments for fitness and health. In late 2008 she successfully sold the Company to adidas and currently serves as Vice President, adidas Wearable Sports Electronics.

Her team at adidas subsequently developed and launched the miCoach® Elite athlete monitoring system in 2013. Major League Soccer, in the United States, adopted the miCoach Elite system across the entire league, making MLS the first professional Smart League.


  1. Know your consumers and test the user journey; which means a good portion of your leadership and developer team should represent the user demographics.
  2. Transitioning from prototype to production is a key step. Many companies struggle in that phase. Have a production and supply chain expert, especially if you are producing overseas.
  3. Don’t hesitate to create your own brand and just start selling!

Our Conclusion

There’s some great advice here from those who have experience in the Wearable Tech space and anyone thinking of following in their footsteps should find it interesting and perhaps refer to it as they start out their own ventures.

This industry is such an exciting, innovative one to get to into yet has many pitfalls startups can fall into. To really get your project off the ground and out there into the hands of ‘wearers’ it would be important to take onboard points outlined here such as – “what problem are you trying to solve?”, “has your idea already been met by another existing product?”, focus on design, persevere, get the right team in place. Perhaps most of all enjoy what you’re doing!

Please feel free to leave a comment below, it would be great to get your feedback on our roundup.

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